Criminal Law

Why Do You Need A Criminal Lawyer?

The criminal justice system in Ontario relies on substantive and procedural legal rules rooted in medieval England. It is a process that only professional lawyers and judges, who do it for a living could possibly keep up with all new developments, and even they sometimes struggle. The risks of a mismanaged criminal charge can very severe including jail time and a criminal record. A skilled criminal lawyer is the best way to ensure the most favourable outcome.

When Should You Call A Lawyer?

It is best to engage a lawyer as soon as you are aware you are being investigated. Unlike the United States of America, a Canadian lawyer cannot accompany you to a police interview or interrogation. However, there is more that a lawyer can do to protect if you speak to them as soon as possible. Many cases are won and lost on what and how much is revealed to the police before a lawyer becomes involved.

Can You Represent Yourself?

Yes, you can. There is no law which requires someone facing a criminal charge to retain a lawyer. However, doing so will put you at a significant disadvantage, because the prosecuting Crown Attorney that will be assigned to your case, is a highly trained lawyer. They will be aware of criminal procedures and evidentiary matters which you likely will not be, making it less likely that you will achieve a favourable outcome in your case.

Should You Talk To The Police?

The short answer is no. Once the police believe they have enough evidence to charge you, they will do, and you will not talk yourself out of it. However, you may inadvertently give the police additional evidence against you to pass on to the crown attorney. Once you are asked to speak to the police about a criminal charge, it is best to let your lawyer do the talking.

What Are Your Legal Rights?

Because of our proximity to the United States of America, Canadians often confuse what they see on America television with our own legal system. For example, “Miranda Rights” have no bearing in Canada. Prior to 1982, personal rights for individuals facing criminal charges were primarily found in so called common law. This is a system whereby old decisions are used to determine what rights if any apply to Canadians upon arrest. In 1982, most of the commonly used rights were enshrined in the so-called Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Briefly summarized they guarantee the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, free from arbitrary arrest and detention, certain rights upon arrest including the right to counsel, rights during the proceeding including the right to a trial within a reasonable period of, right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, right against self-incrimination and the right to understand all proceedings in your native language.

How Long Does A Criminal Prosecution Take?

While it depends on many factors, the quicker you retain counsel the higher the chance of a speedy resolution to the matter. Though there is no guarantee, if a lawyer is retained prior to the first court appearance, disclosure can be ordered right away so that meeting with the Crown Attorney can be arranged. If the case is particularly weak, it is even possible to negotiate a withdrawal of the charge or another favorable resolution before your first appearance.

How Does A Case Progress Through The Criminal Justice System?

Every case begins with a police investigation. If it is concluded that there is a reasonable probability that a crime was committed the accused is arrested by the police and interviewed. They are then either released on their own promise to make all court appearances or held for a bail hearing. If the bail hearing is not successful, there is a chance that the accused may be in custody until the full resolution of the charge.

The next step is the disclosure review. The Crown Attorney has an obligation to provide all of the disclosure which could potentially be used in a prosecution. Once this part is complete, usually a so-called crown pretrial is held to determine what issues may be resolved immediately, and how the matter will proceed moving forward. Oftentimes, a deal may be struck for a resolution of the charge.

If no resolution is possible, a trial date is set. Criminal trials are very complicated legal proceedings that may sometimes take weeks or months to complete, though most of them only require a few days. However, before the trial is even heard, any number of pre-trial applications need to be addressed. If there is outstanding disclosure for example, or if the matter took too long to get to trial, your lawyer may recommend an application hearing to resolve these issues. Sometimes, a pre-trial application, such as right to a trial within a reasonable period, may resolve the charge. If a judge rules that the charge took too long to resolve, it may be dismissed without any further hearing.

During the trial process, the Crown Attorney always has the burden of proving the case against the accused. In some instances, a skilled defence lawyer will pick apart a crowns case so thoroughly that defence does not even have to presented. Oftentimes however, defence evidence will be presented and at the conclusion a judge, or sometimes jury, will determine whether there was enough evidence for a guilty verdict. If there is a guilty verdict, the matter will proceed to sentencing.

However, it does not stop there. Even if found guilty, there is an option to appeal the verdict, the sentence and or other issues. If a jail sentence is imposed, there is the possibility of early release and other ways of lessening the burden on the convicted party. All matters, however, require the proper documentation and legal knowledge to stand any chance of success.

Can I Be Sure Of An Acquittal?

For various reasons, an outcome cannot and should not be guaranteed by any defence lawyer. There is simply no certainty in litigation. However, with experience a lawyer will be able to gauge with increasing accuracy where a matter is headed. The clients with the best chances of success are the ones who contact a lawyer early and will be certain that they used every possible defence available to them.

Who To Call

At Empel Law Professional Corporation, our lawyer have over a decade of experience litigating in multiple provinces, at the Ontario Court of Justice, Superior Court of Justice and Court of Appeal levels. If you or a loved one are facing a criminal charge, call 416-500-1937 to speak to a lawyer immediately.

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Arkadiusz J. Empel urodził się w Katowicah. Jako dziecko emigrował do Kanady, razem z rodziną, lecz wrócił jako student aby ukończyć Pracę Magisterską w Krakowie. Przez swoją pracę z polonią w okolicy Toronto utrzymał władność w swojim języku ojczystym. Jeżeli Państwo życzy się skonsultować prosto z adwokatem Polski, proszę przedzwonić na numer 416-500-1937.